Tuesday, May 07, 2024

The Happenstance of Abstract Design

 Once Upon A Time
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam
—Joyce Odam

real as
long climb
up some ima-
ginary mountain,
thin air that hinders
your breathing as the
land recedes, a tiny map
of greens and browns, toy-
sized houses and cows…the
minute children as they watch
you—Surreal as that, your harsh
breath burning your throat—your
muscles rebelling, then memorizing
their function—And your hands, your
awful, aching hands, with their cuts and
numbness, how you rely on them, marvel
at them, and the arms to which they attach,
hugging the mountain—holding it close and
loving its dear, steep body, with its footholds
and notches—while upwards the beautiful white
summit birds soar over and you can see the detail
in their sky-filling wings and match the fathomless
darkness of their eyes—as they scream down at you.

—Robin Gale Odam

I thought it was a brush.
I dipped the tip of the bristles
into just one color, bled it across
the page—I wanted lines but
there were none, just the page
with its width, and its length
for the color to run down—

to run down, no lines for words,
for the spelling of all the colors
of the palette, from the plastic
childhood tray of squares and
all the squares one color,
a kind of grey, or taupe—

the one color for the story,
for the plot, for the interlude—
for the comedy or the tragedy,
for the rise or the lift, or the
fall from summer, from spring, or
from winter—the square of black
for winter tested against all the
winters—the intervals of division—

the tip of a brush dipped
into the square of black and then
mixed into every other square to
to keep its spelling, or find the
perfect word collected
from the square of
black or grey,
or taupe.


—Joyce Odam

various tones of beige
rich browns
a field of near-white
in suspended swirl

a frozen leap of line
in vague direction
balanced right side up
and holding
like an important act
of intention

the eye understands
what the mind
tries to know

art is art
framed for itself
to adorn some wall
deciphering nothing
but the happenstance of
accidental design
and deliberate choice of color

abstract proof
of anything asked
that requires no answer

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 7/28/15) 

—Robin Gale Odam

Whisper of shadow in the dark,
the quiet death of indifference—

I shall retrace my steps, find
what poured out into the dream.

Wing-flutter outside the window,
book of sorrow, origami sparrow.

I shall light my candle—hush of
memory, flick of light, the quick
of night.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, December 2017,
and Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/29/22)


—Joyce Odam
A woman is making the bed in the sunny room,
picking up slivers of glass from the broken win-
dow. They dazzle her fingertips until they bleed.
She holds a wad of tissue in her hand.

She is weeping. Her tears are cutting her cheeks.
The sheets are white with red rosebuds on them.
The diamond of her ring makes angry slashing
motions in the light.

She is fascinated by this ritual. She feels as if
she lives in the center of all the world’s mirrors,
performing for them. She is going to stay here until
the bed is smooth and safe again, even if nighttime

comes, even if time tears itself into little pieces.
This is a thing she must do. Every time she thinks
she has it all, another piece of glass flicks her atten-
tion to it. They are getting smaller now.

She licks her finger and touches it to the glass.
The sunlight is warm in the room. She doesn’t
know why she cannot stop weeping.

It all happened too long ago to keep
remembering it now.
Why does it take so long to do?
Is the window through breaking?
 Something There

—Joyce Odam

She pulled in your direction; didn’t she,
grabbed at your shadow, though you hunched
away, alley-like, and promised her nothing;

still she followed you, didn’t she, lit your eyes,
pretended anything if you would claim her,
poor thing, less than  

a statistic to you now, though she said you
could love her, and she would love you back
forever.  And she did.
 Within The Night

—Joyce Odam
Various I cry unto you, oh great deliberate river,
oh stone,
oh rain;  oh various, I cry unto the zero of love;
I cry unto my

smooth darkness; oh various. Various I am torn—
oh see, oh feel.
I am torn bloodless, seamless, raveling free, oh
various in the

stroke of leaves, in the flutter of earth wing—
Various as the light, or that shadow, or the shadow
on that dark,

or as the dark on that dream, I am various.  I shift
and shift
under the false love of mirrors that open and pour

various with regret, with sorrow, with joy; various
with envy—
that spark, that slow destruction—oh various with
all that—

with slow and swift continuance—with flow of
those words—those speakings—those listenings,

and enter the hum and stay there, fill up the room
with your life,
oh various.


—Joyce Odam

I picked up the lamp and it was empty,
wishes scattered all over the ground,
and no Genie.

The lamp was dented and dull,
tossed away as worthless, and I had
no desire to ask for magic again.

I heard a harsh laugh in the distance
and watched a sinuate figure
vanish like smoke in the air.

What do I care? I muttered,
and kicked
the useless lamp back into the gutter.
Again The Meaning

—Joyce Odam

what is written down the trees
in last sunlight
blurs words
into messages
no readers
that stand
in revelation
and awe
to be
so holy
so innocent of this
to feel the light
and bring
new comprehensions,
the eternal sunlight
flowing down the trees
and into the ground
there are such languages

—Joyce Odam

I feel you floating out upon the universe—
your arm creating a new horizon, your body
translating into something sacrificed—

yet you sing with your impossible
silent voice—all the way to the next
syllable of confusion which you do not honor.

Your shadow upon the mountain of this transition
is heavier than your eloquence—you almost appear,
you almost return to your own meaning—

when will you leap into sorrow as rain—
as great earthquakes mentioned in newspapers—
as winds that damage everything with their furor—?
(prev. pub. in  Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/5/14)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

My heart soared into the clouds—the wind
had layered them above the setting sun
and then had become motionless.
I prayed as the last day passed.
I am still here—not remembered, not taken.
The sky is clear today.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/23/11)


Many thanks to Joyce and Robin Gale Odam for today’s lovely post, as we wend our way through this sunny/rainy/sunny/rainy Spring!

Our new Seed of the Week is “Mothering”. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.


 —Public Domain Photo

A reminder that
Cameron Park Library
Poets and Writers Workshop meets
today in Cameron Park, 5:30pm.
For info about this and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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“…a frozen leap of line…”